Going into 2007, it seemed that the credibility of conservative movement was at low ebb. Republicans had gotten (in President Bush’s words) “thumped” in the midterm elections, losing both the House and the Senate. Congressional Republicans had approval ratings lower than any other Congress in history. The incoming Democrats, on the other hand, seemed to present a clear vision promising an end to the Iraq War, ethics reform, and an end to corruption in government.
Conservatives seemed to be losing on ideas as well. Immigration (seriously) was seen as a Republican weakness. Conservative opposition to embryonic stem cell research was also widely unpopular, as it seemed to show that conservatives were cold and unfeeling towards those with incurable diseases.
But chief among conservative weak points was the Iraq War. In January 2007, the war had been going on for over four years, with little progress being made. In fact, things were getting worse. President Bush’s “surge” strategy reminded many of Vietnam. With casualties climbing, the prospects in Iraq were looking worse and worse.
In fact, at the onset of the surge, a Rasmussen poll showed that 50% of Americans trusted the Democrats on Iraq more than the Republicans. 38% preferred the GOP on the issue.
Given the high level of opposition, it seemed inevitable that the ultra-liberal Democratic Congress would have their way with the hapless Republicans. However, the opposite happened. Conservative, not liberal, ideology was adopted in 2007, and it worked.
The first major conflict between the liberalism and conservatism came when President Bush came up with a bipartisan plan that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. The bill had overwhelming support—Democrats liked it, Republicans liked it, the mainstream media liked, even Fox News supported it. It was only the die-hard conservatives who stood in opposition.
And the conservatives won resoundingly. Congress was so shocked by the opposition that it has not offered any other immigration “reform” bills since. (Although given that back in June, it was supposedly imperative that we get immigration reform immediately, it makes Congress look even more hypocritical and dishonest than they already do). John McCain’s support for amnesty sunk his presidential campaign. Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani, who had all expressed support for the bill, immediately, started up their best Tom Tancredo impersonations. There has been literally no talk of amnesty since. Chalk up one victory for conservatives principles.
Stem cells, an issue that hurt Republican candidates a great deal, was another resounding victory. For years, liberals successfully spun the issue as one of sickness vs. health, life vs. death, hope vs. despair. Conservatives could only offer a weak sounding rationalization that stem cell research was unnecessary and immoral. This explanation won few P.R. points, as liberals offered glowing predictions of stem cell therapies offering cures for virtually all diseases. They made Ponce de Leon (the Spanish explorer who searched for the Fountain of Youth) look like a hard-bitten cynic.
But conservatives were right on this issue as well. Recent scientific advances have made embryonic stem cell research virtually obsolete. The new method does not require the creation and destruction of human life.
This development clearly demonstrated the dishonesty liberals displayed on this issue. For years, liberals wrote disparagingly of conservatisms “war on science”. They were presented in the mainstream media as heartless religious extremists cheerfully denying medical care to sufferers. The stem cell debate was supposed to be over.
But liberals were dead wrong. Conservatives were right, and we will almost certainly see a host of cures from the new stem cell treatment. Embryonic stem cells, however, will go down in history having never cured even one person.
However, conservatives were most thoroughly vindicated on the issue of Iraq. The Democrats were swept to power by campaigning, in large part, on this issue. While some of their claims of a “mandate” by the American people to bring the troops home were overstated, it is hard to deny that many Americans did turn to the Democrats for a new direction in Iraq. They promised to turn things in Iraq around.
And failed. Bush’s surge, while initially unpopular, did the job. Violence in Iraq has shot downward. The once out of control Anbar Province is at least somewhat pacified. Violence in Baghdad is down. Sectarian violence across the country has plummeted. The surge worked.
This was evident when General David Petraeus gave his now famous report on conditions in Iraq. He clearly showed the country that the surge worked—and sealed the Democrats doom on the issue.
There have been many other, smaller conservative victories this year—the MoveOn.org “General Betray-Us” ad, Harry Reid’s attempted slapdown of Rush Limbaugh, the rejection of the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax, not the little machine you get money out of), and many others. Conservatives have had a difficult time of it in recent years, with out of control government spending, corruption, incompetence on the Iraq issue, and low Republican approval ratings. However, the year 2007 has thoroughly vindicated many conservative principles.